Callan makes the most of jockey shortage
Neil Callan had to change his burger order to the fruit platter when he received the call-up from the Jockey Club during his end of contract Phuket holiday, but any sacrifices made in cutting back his calorie intake were repaid in multiples as Callan booted home a double for trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai.
It was the perfect hit-and-run mission for Callan, who finished his contract on January 31, but was called back to fill a shortage of riders for yesterday's fixture and made the most of it by winning back to back races on Lombardi and Praising.
'Who needs to worry about riding trackwork and looking up the entries, I just hopped on the Ipad from my banana lounge in Phuket and looked up the fixtures,' Callan said. 'The first person I rang was Ricky, with Brett Prebble being out and all, and I was lucky enough to land on these two. It's been a great day.'
Callan added substantially to the three winners he rode during his contract with the dream double and was pleased to finally strike gold with Yiu, who had been one of his biggest supporters.
'To be fair to Ricky, he's been doing his best to put me on a winner for a while, and at the moment his horses are really racing well,' Callan said. 'This just puts the icing on the cake when I leave on this winning note, hopefully the trainers and owners won't forget me when I come back in October next season - although perhaps I'll be back in March for the Derby.'
Lombardi broke his maiden status last start under Prebble, but Callan's strong riding style was up to the task of lifting the gelding to his second win - both of which have come since the owners moved the horse to Yiu's stable three starts back.
'I went through the race and decided to ride him cold, as Brett did last start, and while Ricky was keen that he see plenty of daylight, I was happy to take a trail and come up inside because I didn't want him to get posted wide throughout. We ended up getting a lovely trail through, and I think he mainly just needs a wake-up at the top of the straight to remind him he's in a race.'
Praising put the writing on the wall with an improved barrier trial and recent second placing to Euro Power, and Callan believes Yiu has unlocked the key to the horse by adding blinkers.
'To look at the horse, he is just built like a dirt sprinter, and he has trialled very well on this surface before,' Callan said.
'We got a lovely tow into the race, he is still a bit babyish, but he travelled well in the blinkers and stayed focused down the straight, so Ricky has done well with him.'
Yiu was happy to open up new options for Praising, who has now proved his capabilities on both surfaces, but it is his dirt specialist Dynamic Blitz that the trainer is hoping can land his next feature race.
Dynamic Blitz was this week invited to compete in the Dubai Golden Shaheen to be run on the Tapeta surface on World Cup night at Meydan racecourse on March 26.